[MUD-Dev] Character skill distribution and trade-offs

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Jun 6 13:21:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Daniel Harman writes:
> Ron Gabbard [mailto:rgabbard at swbell.net]

>> The ramifications of 'mesmerization' actually went even deeper as
>> the DPS I had planned for 'magic' in relation to 'melee' damage
>> had to be reduced to maintain the challenge of the encounter and
>> offset the ability to recover during battle.  In addition, those
>> characters with lower health and/or defense became paperdolls in
>> the option where mobs are 'beefed up' to offset the effect of
>> 'mesmerization'.

> Heh, you've nearly designed yourself Everquest! A few ideas :

>   - I suggest you either don't have mesmerisation in the game
>   unless you want to balance every encounter around it.

>   - If you do have it, don't just give it to one class unless you
>   want to give them a monopoly.

>   - Consider attaching a running mana cost to keeping mobs mezzed
>   (i.e. not a one off cost when you cast it) and make it pretty
>   significant.

>   - Consider using a system similar to AO or DAoC whereby you can
>   only maintain a certain number of spells at once. In fact you
>   could prevent them from doing anything else at all whilst
>   keeping a single mob mezzed. Part of the problem in EQ is that
>   mez is used to keep upto 5 mobs at a time on ice, if you limit
>   this number to 1 its impact is significantly tamed.

> Frankly, I think mesmerization is a bad idea. If you let it
> dictate the whole balance of the game, you end up with mobs that
> do huge dmg and a combat system thats hard to
> predict+maintain. Furthermore it overpowers charm, as certain
> players can then control overpowered npcs.

> Of course all this makes me wonder if the importance of
> mesmerisation in EQ is a result of overpowered monsters, or vice
> versa.

My take on mesmerisation is that if a character can completely
eliminate another character's ability to do *anything*, then it
should cost the controlling character the same amount.  So if you
approach me and I mesmerize you, I cannot do anything but mesmerize
you.  It is a one-for-one tradeoff.  It makes it a rather different
capability at that point.

A variation on this would be to be able to mesmerize multiple
opponents based on some attribute.  In level-based games, this could
be the level, permitting high level characters to mesmerize multiple
low level characters, but nothing else.  If another attribute is
used, then perhaps 'gullible' characters could more easily be
mesmerized, permitting you to keep some guards occupied, but not the
master magician.  With PvP, characters would then have to determine
how many points they want to put into the gullibility attribute, or
whatever other attribute or attributes contribute to susceptibility
to mesmerization.

Further, in the spirit of continuous versus discrete functions,
don't make it an all-or-nothing mechanism.  Perhaps if I'm juggling
mesmerization of four gullible characters, they occasionally pop out
of their stupor, requiring me to up the intensity on them briefly,
after returning to keeping up whatever I'm doing on the four of
them.  And it might require that they be facing me.  And that the
lighter the mesmerization, the greater the possibility that noises
or bumps might snap them out of it.

Put in variations and let the players juggle the pros and cons for
any given situation.  Then make sure that new situations are always
coming up.  It could make mesmerisation an interesting game feature.
Just follow the golden rule of gaming: Don't take away from your
players what you've already given them.  This includes control of
their character.

Food for thought,

JB

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